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|Author||Blaine Lee Pardoe|
|Pages|| 306 (print)|
|Cover artwork||Anthony Scroggins|
|Publisher||Catalyst Game Labs|
|First published||23 February 2019|
|MSRP||$ 13.95 (print)|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
|Timeline||19 April 3060 - 11 December 3130|
|Series||Twilight of the Clans|
|Preceded by||Falcon Rising|
Forever Faithful, by Blaine Lee Pardoe, was released digitally and as a print-on-demand book on February 23, 2019. A spiritual if not actual final entry in (or sequel to) the "Twilight of the Clans" cycle that concluded the Clan Invasion era, its storyline bridges past the Jihad era and connects to Pardoe's Dark Age era novel, Surrender Your Dreams.
|“|| SEMPER FIDELIS
In the year 3060, the reborn Star League has destroyed Clan Smoke Jaguar, conquered their home world Huntress, and scattered the few remaining Jaguar warriors to the winds. Now the League seeks to end the Clan invasion for good by using former Smoke Jaguars against their own people.
Meanwhile, two bitter enemies seek to salvage a future for the last Jaguars in existence: Trent, who betrayed his wayward Clan to help them regain their honor, and Paul Moon, a disgraced warrior torn between his pledged loyalty to the Star League and a duty to the Smoke Jaguar civilization he was born to protect.
But power-hungry predators lurk in Clan space, waiting for the right time to strike the vulnerable Star League forces. And to the victor will go the spoils: the priceless artifacts of a destroyed Clan and the sacred genetics of the final generation of Smoke Jaguar warriors.
Trent and Paul Moon must fight tooth and nail against would-be conquerors to save the soul of the surviving Jaguar people before they are consigned to the annals of history. But will their divergent plans tear the survivors apart, or lead them toward freedom?
Working on his memoirs during the night from 10 to 11 December 3130, Paladin Victor Steiner-Davion recalls how he had misjudged and wronged Trent, and the unexpected ripple effects this had on history. However, he ultimately decides to delete all parts of the story that go beyond Trent's supposed death in the Great Refusal, feeling he cannot be the instrument of those revelations for which he figures the universe is not yet ready.
After the reformed Star League has crushed Clan Smoke Jaguar on Huntress as an object lesson to the Clans, they proceed to Strana Mechty for a Great Refusal against the Clan Invasion as a whole. However, Victor Steiner-Davion regards former Smoke Jaguar Clansman Trent as an unreliable turncoat and denies him the chance to fight in the Great Refusal as a warrior. Khan Severen Leroux of Clan Nova Cat, who have sided with the Star League against the Clans, makes Trent his bondsman and then immediately reinstates him to warrior status, so that Trent can participate in a trial by combat against Clan Ice Hellion as part of Clan Nova Cat in the Great Refusal after all. Among the Nova Cats, Star Captain Inanna takes Trent under her wing, making prophetic predictions about his fate and future.
The Nova Cats use Trent's notoriety as a traitor to provoke the Ice Hellions during the trial, thus channeling them in a predictable fashion in order to defeat them. The plan succeeds, but Khan Severen Leroux is killed over the course of the trial and Trent suffers lethal injuries. It is duly reported that Trent died of his injuries. What is not reported is that Trent in fact "died" three times on the operating table, only to be revived each time. Galaxy Commander (soon-to-be Khan) Santin West, Inanna, and Trent decide between them that Trent, repaired and modified beyond recognition with plastic surgery, should live on under a new identity, assuming the name "Baldur". The Nova Cats believe that Trent has some fateful role to play yet. Baldur and Inanna are then assigned to a diplomatic mission to Huntress.
Meanwhile the last ranking Smoke Jaguar officer (and Trent's nemesis), Star Colonel Paul Moon, awakens in a hospital on Huntress with a bionic replacement arm, among other injuries. He struggles to grasp the enormity of his and his Clan's defeat, in a Trial of Annihilation that he himself had called and for which he had set the terms and conditions. He is taken bondsman by Eridani Light Horse intelligence officer Major Kris Blau. Blau hopes that the Smoke Jaguar civilians will look up to Moon and accept him as a leader. As it turns out, many surviving warriors and even many Smoke Jaguars from other castes are unable to accept their total defeat. Moon is initially tasked with serving in a tech team affecting 'Mech repairs under Sgt. Gardenhire, where his knowledge is useful. Moon in turn is surprised about the satisfaction the menial task (which he considered beneath him) gives him.
When news of the Great Refusal and the death of the ilKhan come to Huntress on 24 April 3060, civil unrest grows among the dejected Smoke Jaguar population, and entire regions degenerate into lawless zones where chaos and brutality reign. Russou Howell, "The Jaguar", begins to recruit a guerilla army in the jungles and many leaderless warriors are attracted to his stubborn resistance even when it is unclear what he is fighting for. Blau eventually turns to Paul Moon about assessing the guerillas' motives and agenda. Moon feels that working with the Star League to contain the guerillas gives him an opportunity to put his warrior skills to use again for a meaningful purpose, and he too begins to gather leaderless warriors around him, if only to prevent them from gravitating to The Jaguar.
When the Nova Cat delegation arrives at Huntress, Paul Moon does not recognize Baldur. Because of the descent of Huntress into disorder, Blau and Moon suggest to raise a militia from re-armed elements of the warrior caste, to give them a purpose over joining The Jaguar simply for a lack of options. With the support of the Nova Cat delegation, and Baldur in particular who has taken the Smoke Jaguars' fate to heart, the plan is implemented. Moon also meets with The Jaguar in the jungles to appraise him and his intentions. They reach a detente of sorts, and Paul Moon decides that the surviving Smoke Jaguar population must be evacuated elsewhere to preserve at least the spirit of his people. At the same time, Baldur and Inanna reach the same conclusion after helping a sibko of twelve-year-olds and their teacher who live in hiding in a deserted building.
It is expected that the other Clans will soon descend on Huntress to secure themselves a share of the spoils. On 7 August 3060 Clan Goliath Scorpion is the first to arrive, with a fleet of JumpShips and the destroyer GCS Sagitta. Ambitious Galaxy Commander Rik Myers of Alpha Galaxy announces a Trial of Possession for the Warhawk factory at Rakt-Jabada and all territory within a hundred kilometers, including the spaceport and all former Smoke Jaguar personnel. The militia platoon of former Smoke Jaguar warriors under Paul Moon, dubbed the "First Ghost Platoon", is included in the defense. The Goliath Scorpions are victorious, but find that the factory and the specified area were emptied of all DropShips and all valuable personnel prior to the trial, denying them many of the spoils and most of the (former) Smoke Jaguar warriors they hoped to claim. Even the First Ghost Platoon's survivors were allowed to withdraw as the Goliath Scorpions realized too late who they were.
After the battle, Baldur and Inanna confront Paul Moon about their idea of relocating the remaining Smoke Jaguars and reshaping them into a new society on remote Wayside V. The idea is to preserve the history and spiritual core of Clan Smoke Jaguar, even when it is acknowledged that the Clan as such was destroyed and will not be reconstituted. The logistics are staggering, and the available ships will only be able to carry some 3,000 former Jaguars. Moon balks, and Baldur challenges him to a duel in a Circle of Equals to determine whose vision they will follow to safeguard the remains of the Smoke Jaguars. In the unaugmented fight, Baldur wins against the hulking elemental by removing the power cell from Moon's bionic arm during the fight – having only recently received the bionic arm, Moon was unprepared for this tactic while Trent/Baldur has been living with a bionic arm for many years. At the conclusion of the fight, Trent reveals himself to Paul Moon and the former enemies make peace for the greater good of their people.
On 13 August Paul Moon, Baldur and Inanna present their plan for a mini-Exodus to Wayside V to the leaders of the other (former) Smoke Jaguar castes. Scientist-General Nicasio points out that the scientists will not accept the rule of the warriors again, who failed them when it mattered; in fact, where they previously were only the second-most important caste, the scientists are now courted by the Star League and stand to gain wealth and prestige. Only when it is established that the caste system will effectively be abolished does Nicasio indicate that some scientists may be willing to join the planned Exodus. Merchant Factor Lagemann declares that his caste will gladly man the DropShips and JumpShips (which are sitting idle and neglected by the Star League at the nadir jump point and the Lootera spaceport) and leave Clan space for good, figuring that Inner Sphere merchants will flood the area and bring change that the Clan merchants may not be able to cope with. Master Technician Udvar and Senior Laborer Ambrosia are both of the opinion that their castes would have a difficult future under Star League rule, and are thus agreeable to the Exodus plan. Clan Nova Cat pledges their clandestine assistance.
Baldur and Paul Moon also confer with Russou Howell, though Baldur does not reveal himself as Trent to him. They tell him of their plan and, despite their differences, Howell agrees to provide a diversion: a raid against a missile production facility in the city of Chhaiya which will draw most Star League forces away from Lootera. The Exodus takes place on Founding Day, 24 August, using the festivities as a cover for their activities such as loading the DropShips from pre-arranged nearby warehouses, and moving people aboard. The Lootera HPG station is destroyed in a fire (the HPG core having been removed a day earlier already). Shell games draw the Star League WarShips away. In a snap decision, Trent brazenly steals the Clan Smoke Jaguar Remembrance from Paul Masters's office before embarking on the Nova Cat DropShip Wanderer. Paul Moon, Baldur and Inanna thus abscond with the entire Smoke Jaguar merchant fleet, two WarShips, the Lootera HPG core, and a significant share of the Smoke Jaguar population, escorted by Clan Nova Cat who are relocating their assets to the Inner Sphere and thus happen to travel largely the same route. Arriving on Wayside V on 12 August 3061, they join forces with a forgotten garrison of older Smoke Jaguar warriors under Av Weaver and go about setting up a colony (centered around the Snell Garrison post) and terraforming the marginally habitable world.
Back on Huntress, an embarrassed Paul Masters decides to cover up the exodus out of fear of appearing weak to the other Clans, claiming instead that an unruly portion of former Smoke Jaguars was exiled. Only the Goliath Scorpion enclave on Huntress knows better. Rik Myers realizes the diversionary raid by The Jaguar for what it was, deducing his complicity, and manages to have Oliver Howell, one of The Jaguar's most trusted lieutenants, abducted on 10 May 3061. Using the Drink of Truth he tortures him to death over two days, learning that the fugitives are headed for Wayside V. Over the objections of his subordinate Star Colonel Arristha Lunde Myers decides to go on the year-long trip with his unit to pursue the fleeing Smoke Jaguars, to recover the historically significant artifacts and genetic legacies they took.
Myers's 35th Scorpion Cuirassiers task force, centered around the destroyer Bloodied Stinger, arrives in the Wayside system on 25 May 3062. A high stakes trial is bargained between the opposing forces for the entirety of the colony versus the entirety of the attacking forces (plus the stipulation that the attackers, should they lose, would have to delete their nav data and never reveal the location of the colony); the defenders bid away their two WarShips to enforce a surface battle and minimize damage. Both Baldur and Paul Moon include themselves among the defenders' lineup. The defenders prevail due to their tenacity and knowledge of the difficult terrain, but suffer heavy losses including Baldur who is once again mortally wounded. With the remainders of the colony now firmly forged together after their battle with the Goliath Scorpions, Baldur re-assumes the name Trent ("the last Jaguar - for now"), and bestows leadership of the colony to Paul Moon as well as a notebook with a detailed vision of the Fidelis.
Deeply respectful of Trent now, Paul Moon next confronts the captive Rik Myers and informs him that he and his warriors will have to toil alongside the colonists to earn (and raise) the supplies they need for their year-long trip home. On the next day, Moon delivers an eulogy for Trent to the assembled colonists and tells them his true story.
The Fidelis WarShip Streaking Mist eventually returns to Huntress, escorting those Goliath Scorpions back who did not chose to remain on Wayside V. Captain Farland meets a surprised Russeau Howell in the Shikari Jungle on 23 March 3064 and, at Custos Paul Moon's orders, put the WarShip at Howell's disposal who immediately makes plans to acquire a hidden JumpShip cache from Clan Widowmaker.
Rik Myers meanwhile faces the anger of his Khan at the Rakt-Jabada command post. Realizing that the ordeal has changed him, she gives him a chance at redemption – Myers will have to re-test for his command position of Alpha Galaxy, but she intimates that, should he succeed, she has plans for the Eridani Light Horse yet...
On 10 January 3077, Precentor Albany Clarke of the Word of Blake lands on Wayside V despite being warned off by the colony. Convinced that she has found Clan Wolverine survivors, Clarke tries to convince a decidedly cold Paul Moon to ally his colony with the Word of Blake, to wage war on the Clans. When Moon denies her, she resorts to threats which in turn leads the Fidelis to destroy two of her inbound DropShips with their WarShip Hidden Destiny (which Clarke had overlooked on approach), and use the remaining troops from the third DropShip to test themselves in actual (if lopsided) combat. Feeling that his warrior people need an enemy to fight, Moon decides to seek out the Word of Blake's enemies to fight the Word alongside them. Seven months later he meets with Victor Steiner-Davion and Devlin Stone and offers the service of the Fidelis to them. Fulfilling one of Trent's last wishes, Paul Moon approaches Steiner-Davion in private after the meeting to tell him the full truth.
Finally, on 22 August 3078, the DropShip Stalwart has brought elements of the Fidelis—now also known as the "Stone's Shadows" special forces—to Terra as the Jihad winds down and the Word of Blake is crushed. Standing at the bottom of the ramp outside the district of Columbia, with the Blue Ridge Mountains visible in the distance, Paul Moon pours Trent's ashes on the ground, declaring him to be "the first of our people to touch Terra" and thus the greatest Clan warrior, and also declares "us" the ilClan (though it remains ambiguous if it is the Smoke Jaguars or the Fidelis who are declared ilClan) before stepping from the ramp and ordering the Fidelis to deploy.
- Charles Antonescu
- Alain Beresick
- Kris Blau
- Lucian Carns
- Judith Faber (mentioned)
- Oliver Howell
- Russou Howell
- Severen Leroux
- Paul Masters
- Paul Moon
- Rik Myers
- Rife Nagy
- Victor Steiner-Davion
- Ariel Suvorov
- Trent / "Baldur"
- Av Weaver
- Santin West
- Black Knight
- Black Lanner
- Dire Wolf
- Ebon Jaguar
- Fire Moth
- Fire Scorpion
- Ice Ferret
- Jenner IIC
- Kit Fox
- Mad Dog
- Mist Lynx
- Night Gyr
- Rifleman IIC
- Shadow Hawk IIC
- Stalking Spider
- Timber Wolf
- UrbanMech IIC
- Warhammer IIC
- Long Tom Artillery Piece (exact configuration unspecified; from the context, probably Mobile Long Tom vehicles)
- individual DropShips of unspecified class: Admiral Arrastia, Mist Stalker, Monocracy, Stalwart, Steadfast, The Duke, Tripoli, Wanderer
- individual JumpShip of unspecified class: Divine Wind
- Black Lion (Streaking Mist)
- Cameron (Invisible Truth)
- Lola III (Sagitta)
- WarShips of unspecified class: Bloodied Stinger ("destroyer"), Hidden Destiny
- The front page shows Trent's last stand on Wayside V, against the attacking Goliath Scorpion forces.
- Beyond forming a connection between the Twilight of the Clans series and Surrender your Dreams, the novel also makes references to the events on Wayside V from Pardoe's novel Impetus of War (which introduced the Wayside system).
- According to Trent/Baldur, Clan Smoke Jaguar's Zeta Galaxy, a second-line garrison unit, was stationed on Wayside V where they were destroyed by a combined Nova Cat / Northwind Highlanders force. However in the novel Impetus of War, which covered this battle, it was in fact Tau Galaxy, a newly-created front line unit, that is engaged and destroyed.
- Forever Faithful has the Goliath Scorpion assault on Abysmal begin on August 7th, 3060. According to Field Manual: Warden Clans, the Scorpions arrived four months earlier on April 21st.
- The appearance of an Araña among the 35th Scorpion Cuirassiers, and that it would be identified as such by the defenders, in a battle in 3062 is noteworthy for two reasons: The design was reportedly only put into production in 3087 and had supposedly been specifically designed for a situation that Clan Goliath Scorpion was not yet in, nor would have expected, beforehand, namely the formation of the Escorpión Imperio; that anachronism aside, it is an IndustrialMech (MilitiaMech) design that should have no place in such an elite frontline unit. It could be assumed that the Araña appearing in this novel was an early prototype, possibly a BattleMech (or OmniMech) design from before the Araña project became finalized as a MilitiaMech.
- Paul Moon may not be aware of this, but technically, Jaime Wolf and his entourage beat him to Terra by almost exactly 50 years, when they attended the wedding of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner (and to confront Takashi Kurita over his mishandling of the Dragoon contract and the Minobu Tetsuhara affair). The Dragoons had cut ties with the Clans by that point, but so had the Fidelis when Moon poured Trent's ashes into the wind.